Galahad, Percivale, Bors, and Magdalena travel for an indeterminate time, eventually arriving at a waste forest.  In this remote corner of the world they happen across a magic deer and four magic lions.  The lions chase the deer and the knights (and Mags) chase the lions!  The lions and the deer lead them across the wilderness to, you guessed it, Nacien’s hermitage!

Nacien wastes no time in getting everyone into the chapel.  Soon he’s giving Mass to all the lions and the knights and the deer and Mags.  At Communion (which sort of the Act II climax of Mass, if you were unaware) the deer and lions shapechange!  Refer to this chart for more information.



Deer transforms into… a man who gets to sit in the nicest chair

First Lion transforms into… a man who doesn’t get to sit in the nicest chair

Second Lion transforms into… a different lion

Third Lion transforms into… an eagle

Fourth Lion transforms into… an ox


The lion, eagle, and ox all sit down with the man who isn’t in the nicest chair.  Once Mass is over, though, they get up and leave the chapel by passing through a stained-glass window without breaking it.  I’m not sure that Malory is still describing the Quest for the Holy Grail here; this part reads like it’s a dream he once had, maybe.

Anyway, while Mags and the knights marvel at the transformed animals walking through walls, or at least walking through windows, an angelic voice from nowhere explains that just as the animals passed through the window without breaking it, so too did Jesus come out of Mary’s womb without breaking her hymen.  Malory adds that when they heard these words they fell down to the earth and were astonished, which does not surprise me one little bit.

Afterwards they ask Nacien to explain what the heck is going on, and Nacien explains things like so:



The deer represents… Jesus, which is why the deer was shining white.  (Sorry, did Malory forget to mention that part?)

The lions represent… Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, who wrote the four synoptic gospels.  I guess matching them up to their totem-animals (human, lion, eagle, ox) is an exercise for the reader.

The walking through walls thing represents… exactly what the angel said it did, duh.


Nacien assures them that they’re on the Grail-Quest home stretch.  “I suppose from henceforth ye shall see no more of these confusing allegorical visions.  That was probably the last one.”

There’s much rejoicing!  Mags and the knights chill with Nacien for a day, before moving on to the next stage of the quest.


Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book XVII Chapter 9 — No Comments

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